Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan. Page: 71 of 368
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HEAD OF RED RIVER.
before had been turbid, flowing clear and rapidly over it; and, much to
our delight, it was entirely free from salts. This was certainly an unlooked-for
luxury, as we had everywhere before this found it exceedingly
unpalatable. As I before observed, the effect of this water upon us had
been to produce sickness at the stomach, attended with loss of appetite,
and a most raging and feverish thirst, which constantly impelled us to
drink it, although it had a contrary effect upon us from what we desired,
increasing rather than allaying thirst.
After undergoing the most intense sufferings from drinking this nau.
seating fluid, we indulged freely in the pure and delicious element as we
ascended along the narrow dell through which the stream found its way.
And following up for two miles the tortuous course of the gorge, we
reached a point where it became so much obstructed with huge piles of
rock, that we were obliged to leave our animals and clamber up the remainder
of the distance on foot.
The gigantic escarpments of sandstone, rising to the giddy height of
eight hundred feet upon each side, gradually closed in until they were
only a few yards apart, and finally united over head, leaving a long, narrow
corridor beneath, at the base of which the head spring of the principal
or main branch of Red river takes its rise. This spring bursts out
from its cavernous reservoir, and, leaping down over the huge masses of
rock below, here commences its long journey to unite with other tributaries
in making the Mississippi the noblest river in the universe.
Directly at the spring we found three small cotton-wood trees, one of
which was blazed, and the fact of our having visited the place, with the
date, marked upon it.
On beholding this minute rivulet as it wends its tortuous course down
the steep descent of the caion, it is difficult to realize thit it forms the
germ of one of the largest and most important rivers in America;
floating steamers upon its bosom for nearly two thousand miles, and
depositing an alluvion along its borders which renders its valley unsurpassed
We took many copious draughts of the cool and refreshing water
in the spring, and thereby considered ourselves, with the pleasure we received
from the beautiful and majestic scenery around us, amply remunerated
for all our fatigue and privations. The magnificence of the
views that presented themselves to our eyes as we approached the head
of the river, exceeded anything I had ever beheld. It is impossible
for me to describe the sensations that came over me, and the exquisite
pleasure I experienced, as I gazed upon these grand and novel pictures.
The stupendous escarpments of solid rock, rising precipitously from
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Marcy, Randolph Barnes. Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan., book, 1854; Washington, DC. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6105/m1/71/: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .